Webster A.

Private 30685 Albert Webster, 1st East Yorkshire Regiment (formerly 27359 Yorkshire Regiment)


Died as a prisoner of war 22nd October, 1918

Albert Webster also appears on the Yarm War Memorial and is featured in the website http://www.yarm1914.com/ along with the other Yarm Fallen

Albert Webster was born in Stokesley in 1892 and was the son of Elizabeth Webster. Elizabeth had been born in Bilsdale but moved to the Stokesley area presumably for work. However, from 1881 – 1911 she is recorded in each census as living in Stokesley Workhouse (Springfield House). During this period there were 3 other Webster children recorded in the Workhouse: Thomas born 1872, Louisa (1875) and Charles (1890). It seems likely that these were Albert’s siblings but birth certificates would be needed to verify this.

In 1911 Albert was working as a horse man at Fig Tree Farm, Maltby, and according to his attestation papers Albert enlisted into the Yorkshire Regiment at Stokesley on 10th December 1915, aged 23 years and 5 months. His occupation was given at that time as ploughman at Duck Nest Farm, Maltby. He was recorded as being 5’ 3¾'' , with a chest of 35” and weight of 128 lbs. His Next of Kin was Elizabeth Webster (mother) of Springfield House, Stokesley. Albert made no mention of the address being that of a workhouse.

Private Webster was drafted to France and arrived in Etaples, on 30th August 1916. He was posted to the 7th Battalion as Private 27359, and in the following six months he was wounded twice. In November 1916 he received a gun shot wound to the left thigh/buttock which was treated in the General Hospital in Etaples. He was posted back to the Front and then received another gunshot wound, to his left arm, on 8th February 1917, being admitted to hospital on 10th.

This time he was sent back to England for treatment. After 22 days in one hospital he was transferred to the Western General Hospital in Liverpool. He remained there from 6th March 1917 to 30th July 1917. His recovery was slow as his wound had been discharging, dead bone had had to be removed and the wound had to be packed. Even then, he was back at the Military Hospital, Liverpool in October 1917 suffering from scabies!

After his recovery Private Webster was first transferred to the depot in Richmond, but on 1st April 1918 he was posted to the 6th Yorkshire Regiment and embarked again for France. On 3rd April 1918 he was once more transferred - to the East Yorkshire Regiment - and was allocated a new regimental number, 31685.

Spring 1918 was the period when the Germans launched their last desperate offensives, which carried them forward almost as far as they had reached in 1914, and in the course of their advance, Private Webster was taken prisoner of war. German PoW records appear to tell us that he was captured at Kemmel on 25th April, Kemmel lying just a few miles from Ypres.1

Freidrichsfeld PoW Camp


Private Webster was interned at Freidrichsfeld, but later moved to Langensalza in Slesvig-Holstein, where he died of pneumonia in the Military Hospital on 22nd October 1918. Pneumonia wreaked havoc across Europe for many months, and numerous were the soldiers who survived all the hardships of war, only to fall victim to this disease - against which at the time there were no effective drugs.

The cemetery where Albert Webster is buried contains the graves of soldiers, many of whom had died as prisoners of war, brought together from various locations in Germany. The particular section of the cemetery in which Albert is interred contains 23 burials from Ingoldstadt, Bavaria, which was known as a reprisal camp, a camp in which prisoners were treated very harshly. It might seem just possible, then, that Albert was also kept prisoner in this camp, about which was later written:

“Ingoldstadt would become a notorious German prisoner of war camp in WW1 as would Colditz in WW2”
from “Portals to Hell: Military Prisons of the Civil War “ by Lonnie Spear

“In fairness it must be said that there were some POW camps from which few escape attempts were made. And in a few cases none at all. The most attempts were made from the Strafelger (punishment camps) such as Ingoldstadt”
from “The Prisoners 1914 – 18” by Robert Jackson.

However, the recent release of German records held by the International Red Cross seems to rule out any such connection, as it records that Albert was originally interred at Langensalza, and his remains were transferred to Niederzwehren in 1924.

Private Webster was 26 years old when he died, and was awarded the British and Victory medals. His grave is in Plot vi.G.15 of Niederzweheren Cemetery, Cassel, Germany.

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